Knight Ridder reports:
The three men who killed themselves at the prison here included a mid- to high-level al-Qaeda operative, a Saudi who sided with the Taliban against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and a supporter of a banned extremist group that helped arrange travel for al-Qaeda loyalists, the military said yesterday.
The details about the three dead men represent the first description by the government justifying their capture and imprisonment at the controversial prison camp.
Officials said none had lawyers. A Miami Herald examination of documents made public by the Defense Department suggests that none of the men participated in any hearing during which they could challenge their detention.
One of the men, Ali Abdullah Ahmed of Yemen, was described by the military last night as a "close associate" of Abu Zubaydah, an Osama bin Laden deputy now in U.S. custody, in a secret location.
Ahmed was called hostile and disruptive, according to details released by the Pentagon. As a hard-core hunger striker from 2005 until last month, he would have received repeated forced feedings through a tube tethered through his nose and into his stomach.
The military had recommended that one of the two Saudi nationals, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi al-Utaybi of Qarara, be released and sent back to his home nation for further detention. Utaybi was the supporter of the banned group.
The other Saudi is Yassar Talal al-Zahrani of Yenbo, who was depicted as an "actual front-line fighter for the Taliban" in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.
The quality of the evidence the government has on the three has never been tested in court.
Rather, the Pentagon's brief descriptions are what has qualified them for indefinite detention as so-called enemy combatants, a war-on-terror category created by the Bush administration. It is not a designation covered by the Geneva Conventions, international agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war.
The military issued the descriptions last night amid renewed calls to close the prison and as a U.S. Navy Muslim chaplain arrived at the base to prepare the dead for a traditional Islamic burial, perhaps in their homelands.
Defense attorneys and critics of the prison project blamed despair among the 460 or so captives for the first deaths at this offshore detention center, which opened in January 2002.
But the Pentagon's Southern Command chief visited the prison camps yesterday, and would have none of it.
"I wouldn't want to speak for the detainees. I think that's speculation and that's dangerous," Army Gen. Bantz Craddock said.
He then noted that, with the Supreme Court to decide shortly whether President Bush's war court is constitutional, "this may be an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective."
Meanwhile, the deaths at the controversial prison have prompted calls from around the globe to shutter it. One of Bush's staunchest allies, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said closing Guantanamo would "benefit our cause... against terrorism."
Commanders in Cuba said the three prisoners were found hanging early Saturday, and efforts to revive them failed. Public-affairs officers declined to provide an exact timeline of the events, saying it was part of an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Investigators are looking into whether the procedures in place could have prevented the suicides; whether camp guards followed them; and what changes may be needed to prevent further fatalities, Craddock said.
Saturday's suicides capped nearly a month of on-again, off-again turmoil at the Pentagon's premier offshore detention center, which is indefinitely holding captives from about three dozen nations as enemy combatants.
Six years of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and fascist Republican-controlled government, and we're forgetting what American due process rights means.
I think that when we Americans think that once reported in the media, the Bush-Cheney abuses of office are over and done, in the past. Not so.
The torture continues at U.S. detention centers around the globe, the NSA continues to spy on American citizens through at least 6 illegal surveillance programs, and detainees (including American citizens) remain in prisons, without charge, and without any ability to get their day in court.
Speaking on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, an Australian Supreme Court judge levels charges against the U.S., of stretching legal concepts, not obeying the rule of law, detaining citizens on the haziest of alleged offenses of laws passed retrospectively. Justice Alan Blow told a human rights forum the details of David Hicks' offences [an Australian citizen being detained at Guantanomo Bay], as alleged by the U.S.:
....and decried the use of evidence obtained by interrogation.
He says when British detainees, who had confessed to meeting Osama bin Laden were released, an analysis of the dates and places of the alleged meetings shows the claims are unsustainable.
Justice Blow says it is not surprising.
"In somewhat similar conditions in medieval Europe people used to confess to having conversations with the devil," he said.
Justice Blow says Guantanamo Bay is disguised to look fair, but it does not obey the rule of law.
He also says the extremely vague details of the charges laid against Hicks illustrated this.
"He's charged with the attempted murder of very large number of people of numerous nationalities," he said.
"I think that illustrates the lengths the US Government have gone to to stretch legal concepts and the legal system in order to charge him with something."
Justice Blow also says Hicks cannot receive a fair trial under the legal system set up at Guantanamo Bay.
He says one of the tenets of a fair legal system is an independent judiciary.
"The judges in the US military commissions are serving army officers who are required to base, to obey superior orders and who depend on the goodwill of their superiors to advance and continue their careers," he said.
Are Americans going to sit passively and allow our government to continue to destroy the basic tenets of the rule of law upon which our democracy stands?
Last month, on MEET THE PRESS, when asked about renewed calls for the U.S. to shut down the Guantanomo prison, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice repled, "No one wants to shut it down more than we do. We do not want to be the world's jailer."
But she added, "what are we supposed to do?" She said she was sure Americans did not want terrorists released and running free.
In the crazy neocon mind, rule of law with due process rights and court trials no longer exists. Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, they all leapfrog over it. They go directly from "Bush may and can secretly and with inpugnity round up any and all people, American citizens and foreign nationals alike, anywhere in the world, deny all due process" to "extreme rendition [kidnap, prison, torture and kill]."
The follow-up that never gets put to the members of the Bush administration by the media is "Nobody is suggesting that terrorists should be released and running free. How about allowing them rights of due process, giving them access to attorneys, trying the evidence against them in a court of law, and if convicted, we separate them from the rest of the civilized world in humane prisons?"
The world can't wait. Drive out the Bush regime. Keep the heat on Bush-Cheney, Congress and the media. Find a protest action in your area and take to the streets.
If not you, who? And if not now, when?
Filed under: Bush, Guantanomo, Gitmo, suicide, hanged, Tasmanian, Justice Blow, Meet the Press, Condoleeza Rice